WASHINGTON — In another step by the Biden-Harris administration to support the growing momentum across America for a clean energy economy, the Department of the Interior today announced the proposal of an offshore wind lease sale in the Central Atlantic. The announcement is part of the Administration’s latest actions to expand offshore wind opportunities, building on investments made by the President’s Investing in America agenda and creating good-paying jobs for American workers.
“Since the start of our administration, the Department of the Interior has approved the nation’s first six commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects. Today’s announcement is another step forward in the Biden-Harris administration’s pursuit of a clean energy future,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “We are taking action to jumpstart America’s offshore wind industry and using American innovation to deliver reliable, affordable power to homes and businesses, while also addressing the climate crisis.”
“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will continue to work closely with our government partners and key stakeholders as we move forward with the leasing process in the Central Atlantic,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “We are excited to announce this proposed sale and underscore our commitment to explore additional areas in the Central Atlantic for potential offshore wind development.”
Bidenomics and the President’s Investing in America agenda are growing the American economy from the middle out and bottom up – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over half a trillion dollars in new private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good-paying jobs and building a clean energy economy that will combat the climate crisis and make our communities more resilient.
The Department has held four offshore wind lease auctions during the Biden-Harris administration, which have brought in almost $5.5 billion in high bids, including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and New Jersey and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. BOEM has also advanced the process to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the U.S., including in the Gulf of Maine and offshore Oregon, and has taken steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain.
The proposed lease sale includes one area offshore the States of Delaware and Maryland, and one area offshore the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lease Area A-2 consists of 101,443 acres and is approximately 26.4 nautical miles (nm) from Delaware Bay. Lease Area C-1 consists of 176,505 acres and is approximately 35 nm from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. BOEM is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas should be offered in a lease sale next year. These areas have the potential to power over 2.2 million homes with clean energy. BOEM partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to develop a comprehensive, ecosystem-based ocean planning model that assisted in the selection of the final WEAs.
In July 2023, BOEM announced three Central Atlantic Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), while indicating that WEA B-1 still needed more study. Today’s proposed sale notice does not include WEA B-1, which is located approximately 23.5 nm offshore Ocean City, MD. BOEM has removed that WEA from this proposed lease sale due to the significant costs and mitigation that would be required. However, WEA B-1 may be considered as part of a potential second lease sale in the Central Atlantic, which could occur as soon as 2025.
The Proposed Sale Notice, which will publish in the Federal Register tomorrow, initiates a 60-day public comment period and contains information about the areas available for leasing, certain lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating competing bids and procedures for lease award, appeals and lease execution.
BOEM is seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders. Some of these potential stipulations include:
- Providing bidding credits to bidders that commit to supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry or a combination of both.
- Providing bidding credits to bidders that establish and contribute to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contribute to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts from offshore wind development in the Central Atlantic to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries.
In addition to today’s announcement, BOEM is preparing a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from lease issuance within the Central Atlantic WEAs. The publication of the draft EA is forthcoming and will be available for review and public comment.
More information on the Central Atlantic PSN can be found at BOEM’s website.